Charles Lahr's "Progressive Bookshop"

By:
Huw Osborne
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The independent bookshop is one of the central institutions of modernism: It is the material site around which apparently nebulous networks of influence and promotion cohere; it is a confined space of political, intellectual, and artistic ferment; and it is often the means through which literature is transmitted into its material printed form. This paper will place Charles Lahr's Progressive Bookshop (1921-1941) at the heart of a literary and leftist community in 1930s London. Lahr's shop catered to a community of writers who are not as well known as their contemporaries, but who contributed a wide array of literature to the period. Writers like Rhys Davies, James Hanley, Liam O'Flaherty, Rupert Croft-Cooke, and many others owe a great debt to Lahr and the influence of his shop. Lahr himself was a German ex-patriot married to an East-End Jew, an anarchist businessman, and a patron-of-the-arts on a shoe-string budget. He embodies the artistic, political, and economic context of the 1930s, and his cramped and dusty shop illuminates the production of literary culture between the wars.


Keywords: Bookshops, Literary Networks, Publishing, Printing
Stream: Books, Writing and Reading
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Huw Osborne

Assistant Professor, Department of English, The Royal Military College of Canada
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Huw Osborne teaches English Literarture at the Royal Military College of Canada. His current research examines the career of the Anglo-Welsh author Rhys Davies and the negotiation of authorial identity in the literary marketplace. He has a book on Davies forthcoming with The University of Wales Press. He researches the bookshop as a literary institution.

Ref: B07P0047